Ibeji Twin Figure
DimensionsWork : 9 1/2 x 2 x 2 in. (24.13 x 5.08 x 5.08 cm)
Credit LineGift of Leif Jacobson
LabelThe Yoruba have one of the highest rates of twin births in the world. Twins are considered auspicious in Yoruba culture and are believed to be exceptionally spiritual beings with a strong affinity for the deities Sango and Eshu. Traditionally, if one or both of a set of twins died in childhood, their family would commission carved wooden figures called ere ibeji to commemorate the deceased children and to function as repositories for their souls. The carved figures were often kept on the family altar, and were sometimes ritually fed, bathed, clothed and cared for as if they were real children. Although ibeji sculptures commemorate deceased children, the figures are usually represented as idealized adults with hairstyles, facial sacrifications and other markers of identity that are appropriate to the region where the figures were made. This figure is typical of ibeji sculptures from the area around Abeokuta in Ogun State.